Companies face a steep challenge in keeping up with the growth of regulatory change, successfully managing risk, and addressing enforcement issues. Lack of time and resources, language barriers, and the difficulty of standardizing global programs can also slow the path to ongoing compliance. In North America and Europe, regulations continue to evolve and multiply. Keeping up with the pace of regulatory change in some countries can be hard to monitor. Companies may struggle to get a copy of the legislation, let alone understand the main requirements. EHS managers can be left wondering how the legislation is enforced and what components are mandatory. In addition, policymakers are under increasing pressure from external stakeholders, including consumers, to push through more stringent environmental regulations.
Five Steps to Compliance
As the burden of keeping up with, understanding, and complying with EHS regulations increases, you should follow five steps:
1. Identify Applicable EHS Regulations
Allocate the responsibility for keeping up with changing regulations to someone specific within the business. Important points to consider include how many countries consolidate their regulations, which countries publish regulations in a language you understand, and which laws are applicable to your business. From there, do you understand the legal language? Do your corporate standards ensure compliance everywhere you operate? And how will proposed regulatory changes impact your facilities?
2. Understand the Regulations and Compliance Requirements
It’s important to come to grips with what the regulations require across multiple aspects, including material safety data sheets, natural resource use, emissions limits, record-keeping, training, labelling, machinery safety, PPE, and exposure limits.
3. Verify Compliance
There is a definite trend towards more frequent site self-assessments, with 78% of the companies responding to our survey indicating that facilities require EHS self-assessments. It’s important to combine these assessments with a broader audit program.
4. Establish an Ongoing Compliance Process
Integrate regulatory demands into standard operating procedures, assign responsibilities to individuals, create escalation procedures to provide early warnings of non-compliances and train staff on what’s required. This is where making EHS management software integral to the process can prove highly useful.
5. Rack and Manage Emerging EHS Issues
Being able to build a bigger picture overview of what is happening in all the countries where you operate is vital. It is important to understand how countries’ policies might influence regulations in the future. Change can happen quickly, so operating procedures should be continually reviewed against best practice.